At the direction of the Early Alert Task Force, the Office of Information Technology has developed a system to provide students, teachers, and support staff with automatic academic alerts based on various activities in Canvas. The primary purpose of the system is to improve student retention. The general methodology is to connect underperforming students with support resources through targeted, timely information campaigns. The system was piloted in the Fall 2019 semester for CHM1101 and MTH1001 courses.
The Canvas Academic Response Automaton, or "CARA", leverages an automated user in Canvas to collect and interpret data based on schedules and thresholds set by course coordinators. Students receive course-specific resources automatically from CARA if their performance falls below predefined metrics. Teachers, support staff, and advisors are notified based on preset escalation paths, and students are provided with an opportunity to request help through the system as well.
134 students were automatically identified as at-risk and received messages from CARA. 9% of students interacted with the notifications directly, self-identifying as needing help. Students received personal contact from their instructors, GSAs, and tutoring center coodinators to provide assistance. Advisors were also provided with alert data prior to midterms and academic advising meetings. Ultimately, course and tutoring center data will be reconciled with alerts to assess the overall effectiveness of the process.